5 Beautiful Things About Afghanistan

“Beautiful” and “Afghanistan” is a pairing you don’t normally see on the news, but it’s true. From a wealth of natural resources, to stunning natural landmarks, to the people who work and live in these places, Afghanistan is a land vibrant with beauty. Just take a look.

1. Hospitality That Outdoes the American South

The first day you meet, you are friends. The next day you meet, you are brothers.

-Afghan Proverb

Afghans are some of the most hospitable people in the world — often because, like many Arab nations, the environment they live in is so hostile. When hospitality can mean the difference between life and death (by desert or otherwise), these people step up to protect and provide for their guests.

In the training manual I used before going in-country, the author shared a uniquely Afghan story. While on a bus out of the city, the expat became dehydrated. He fainted as he disembarked. Later, he woke up being nursed by an old man who did not speak any English. The man took care of him for several days, helping him back to health and making sure he was looked after.

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work
Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work

This hospitality is taken to a new level by the Pashtunwali, tribal law bound in honor. As a guest in a Pashtun household, you will be seated farthest from the door. Your host’s duty by honor is to die before they let harm come to you, so they strategically put you in the safest part of the room.

Pashtunwali was perhaps most dramatically shown through Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s story. He was the only survivor of a Taliban attack, stranded in enemy territory, when an Afghan village decided to take him under their wing. Though the Taliban demanded his return and launched attacks, the villagers protected him until he was able to be rescued.

Normal interactions with Afghans probably won’t be this dramatic. Yet their hospitality, kindness, and pride comes across strikingly–whether they are insisting you take more tea, laughing with you about the difficulties of sitting on the floor, or giving from their meager means to make sure you have naan when you are sick.

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work
Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work